It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been learning the hard way that there are times in life when you need the right equipment since otherwise you can waste a great deal of time getting nowhere!
I’ve just invested in an antenna analyser which might be the best amateur radio investment I’ve ever made and one which I should have made 6 months ago. I realised a month ago that the power cutting out issues had absolutely nothing to do with my antenna system but was occurring because I was running the rig from my car’s battery. Not surprisingly, transmitting with 100 watts puts some drain on a car’s battery and the FT450 is fussy about the voltage required for it to operate.
I now connect the rig to the portable car battery at all times when portable/mobile and have had no further problems.
I’ve set the Buddipole up twice on 20 meters since the antenna analyser arrived last week and have had it tuned to a near perfect SWR in minutes! I am beginning to understand why this is a ‘must have’ tool for portable setups, particularly when using an antenna such as the Buddipole. The Buddipole is a great antenna system but it has many parts which increases the chances of a loose connection etc. so now I can set it up and connect the analyser, knowing within seconds whether I’ve set it up correctly or not.
When I operated yesterday, I initially had an SWR on 14.200 of 2.6 which dropped to 1.1 when I lengthened the counterpoise wire by about 1 foot. The SWR was the same from about 14.100 to 14.400 so no complaints there and it took me about 1 minute to get it right.
I’m looking forward to more portable operation now that I’m properly equipped. I might even begin to look at bicyle mobile operation since I’m cycling over 100 kilometres per week at the moment to work etc. Thanks again to Dave G4AKC for his assistance and support in my times of trouble
Following my previous post where I advised that I was going to purchase a toroid to assist with RF problems I unfortunately purchased the wrong part! I visited Jaycar Electronics whilst in Mandurah and purchased a pack of insulating clips instead of a toroid at their suggestion. Great idea except they are too wide for the RG58 coax.
We’re currently visiting a friend in Albany for the Easter break which is located on the Southern Coast of Western Australia, about 400 kilometres from Perth. I set up the Buddipole today from Rushy Point which is located in Little Grove about 8 kilometres outside the town centre which was a good location in the Princess Royal Harbor. Nice and quiet also with very few people around.
I initially set up the Buddipole as a vertical but was having problems with the tuning above 14.200 Mhz. I then altered it to a vertical dipole with a sloping element and managed to tune it by adjusting the length of one of the elements. I had a good contact with Hungary and then spoke with Stephen VK6HCF in Broome. The radio reset itself once only during today’s operation so I didn’t remain on air for too long.
There’s been few shops open here during the Easter break but I’ll be visting Jaycar tomorrow on our way back up to Perth to get the right part this time!
Today at around 07:30 UTC I decided to drive down to the end of the Dawesville Channel (a peninsula of sorts with a rocky outcrop with water on both sides) and to try the Buddipole from there. I initially listened on 20 metres using my Outbacker aerial on the car and was pleased to hear Dave, G4AKC bicycle mobile coming through.
I’ve spoken with Dave on a number of occasions over the past 12 months and he always does an excellent job with his portable set ups from the beach in Blackpool. He’s also one hell of a nice guy! I was receiving Dave about 5/5 (he was only using about 50 watts output power!) with a fair amount of QSB and made contact and arranged to do a comparison test with the Buddipole. Dave was receiving me ok with the Outbacker but he had difficulties copying me on my final over before going to set up the Buddipole.
Approximately 15 minutes later after some frustrations with the tuning and counterpoise wire (I had a stake with me but had forgotten to bring anything to secure the wire to it securely) I had the Buddipole up and running. I was thrilled to receive a 5/9 signal report from Dave but sadly some technical problems brought my operation to an abrupt end.
The FT450 started resetting itself whilst I was talking which I’ve never had happen before and this confirmed my suspicion that I’ve got RF issues with the Buddipole, particularly when using it in a vertical configuration on 20 metres. At Dave’s suggestion, I’ll be buying a toroid on Monday and I’ll wrap a couple of turns of the coax around it to present a high impedance to the RF energy.
Fingers crossed this will do the trick and I can get the most out of this antenna system. It will also save me the expense and wait over buying a triple ratio switched balun from Buddipole in the US. Watch this space!
Today, I decided to take advantage of the pleasant weather conditions and set up the Buddipole by the Estuary at Dawesville. I’m still only operating on 20 metres since unfortunately 15 and 10 are always showing fair and poor propogation when I check. hamqsl.com.
I set up at around 6:30 UTC and decided to operate at the Dawesville Estuary where I was able to set up on the sand near the water. I also figured that I’m facing in an Easterly direction which would help for long path Europe. The following photographs show the setup near the Estuary.
I set up the antenna for 20 metres, connected the FT450 and the antenna tuned effortlessly immediately. Unfortunately I realised later that it was resonant a bit too high up the band and did not operate well below 14.200 Mhz.
I put out a CQ and was pleasantly surprised to immediately receive a call from Harry, I3KAN who announced that conditions were poor between him and VK6. I don’t think I’ve ever received a reply to a CQ call on 20 metres from a station in Europe so I was thrilled! I then spoke with Franc, F5PAU who I speak with quite often and was pleased to receive a 5/5 report which is better than the usual 5/2, 5/3 reports.
I’ll need to take greater care next time I set up this way to ensure that the antenna is resonant at a lower frequency on the band. The FT450 would not allow me to transmit below 14.200 Mhz on some occasions which was very frustrating. All in all a good test. I’m looking forward to trying the Buddipole in this location as a horizontal dipole and see how it goes.
I tried my first Buddipole portable set up near the beach today and certainly picked a good day for it. I meant to photograph the antenna but stupidly forgot!
I went to Kwinana Beach, near Rockingham and set it up in a vertical configuration about 4 metres off the ground and estimate that it was about 25-30 metres away from the ocean. It tuned up immediately with no problems and I was up and running. It was a good day with little wind blowing.
When I switched on the radio I immediately noticed how busy 20 metres was with many strong signals from Europe coming through. I made contacts into Bulgaria, Slovenia and finally spoke with Steve MW0ZZK at length who I’ve previously worked on 20 metres and 10 metres. Steve peaked at over 5/9 at one point during the QSO.
Steve was also receiving me up to 5/8 so all working nicely. I did a comparison with my car’s vertical antenna and to my surprise there was only one signal point difference from the Buddipole (the Buddipole was slightly stronger). The same result from Slovenia. I’m going to try and get closer to the water next time but what a location and pleasant afternoon.